I'm boxing up a T-shirt to send to my dad for Father's Day. It's got a cartoon of a feline curled up on a block of ice, with a caption underneath that reads, "Cool Cat." It'll make him smile.
I'm not as close to my dad as I am my mom, but she tells me I'm like him in some ways. My father is a risk-taker, but he taught me that no matter what the stakes, you never let them see you sweat. By watching him I learned how to smile and play it cool, and how to keep on smiling and being cool even as I inject that particular resonance and deliberation into my voice that says, "Do what I tell you to do."
Although he had a hand in creating me, I don't think my dad knows quite what to make of me. Once, when I told him I was working at a nudist resort, he shook his head and laughed. "You know, honey, I just never know what you're going to do next. You're anything but predictable." He shrugged. "But, whatever makes you happy."
He wasn't always so laissez-faire. We bumped heads a few times when I was a teenager, and I recall our last standoff particularly because it was one of the few times I've ever seen my father be obviously thrown off balance.
I was 17 and it was only a few weeks before I was to leave home and go off to college. My mother had moved out of the house some six months before and while they hadn't said the word "divorce" to me, that was clearly in the wind. I wasn't hugely upset about it-it was obvious to me that they wanted different lives, and I thought they should both just get on with that.
And I was taking advantage of my father's distraction, because while my parents were usually pretty strict about my dating habits, that summer I was able to get around most of the rules designed to prevent my spending much time in a backseat with my boy of the moment. Some discretion was still called for, however. So I was congratulating myself, late one humid evening, on being home from a very passionate date slightly ahead of my curfew when I walked into a situation I hadn't foreseen.
As I entered the house, I heard the stereo playing, and thought, Oh, Dad must still be up. So I walked into the living room, and there was my dad all right-but he wasn't alone. He was sitting on the couch with a pretty blond woman.
I'm sure my jaw dropped, and I fixed my dad with a look that said, "What are you doing? What are you doing here in a dimly lit room, with a glass of wine, with a woman who is not my mother?"
My father stood up quickly and tried to carry off the scene with his usual manner, introducing me to his companion. But he was clearly feeling wrong-footed, and I wasn't about to let him off the hook. I greeted her politely, but my raised eyebrow and arch tone spoke volumes. And when I folded my arms across my chest and gave my dad the same Oh, really? look I'd learned from him, the subtle set of his jaw betrayed his discomfort.
I can only assume that his state of confusion was responsible for what he said next, because my father has never been slow on the uptake, and he doesn't ask stupid questions. Narrowing his eyes in the dim light, he peered at me and said, "What's that on your neck?"
Oh shit. I felt my cheeks go red and I clapped my hand over the string of hickeys my date had left on me. My father's face took on the expression of a man who fervently wishes he could bite off his tongue, and I thought I saw a trace of red on his face as well. His date just looked faintly amused. We stood there in strained silence for a moment, and then I said, "Uh, I'm going to bed-g'night," and fled.
My father didn't mention the incident the next day. Neither did I. Cool cats like us don't like to dwell on our pratfalls.
TRIBAL INSTINCTS "KINK TASTINGS" & PLAY PARTY FOR MEN
Sample different BDSM techniques. This week: Violet Wand electrical play! Male ID is required. Wet Spot, email@example.com or 270-9746 for more info, tasting event 8 pm-10 pm, party 10 pm-3 am, $5, free for Seattle Men in Leather members.
CROSS-DRESSING FOR LOVERS
Want to play dress-up? Lady Diana shows how to fulfill your fantasies in a safe and comfortable atmosphere. 523-5544 or firstname.lastname@example.org, 8 pm-10 pm, $20.
Led by noted percussionists Russell H. and Erika, this discussion/demonstration of basic flogging techniques is open to all genders, orientations, and experience levels. Everyone pairs off and takes turns being the practice dummy, so bring a heavy jacket to wear, and a flogger if you have one, although some loaners are available. Wet Spot, more info at email@example.com or 650-5234, 2-6 pm, $35, membership not required.
Learn about herbs for sexual health, aphrodisiac teas, and energetic plant mixtures to increase erotic awareness. Register at www.sanctuaryintime.net, 6 pm-9 pm, $25 per person, $40 per couple.
PARADISE POOL TIME
A clothing-optional (nude) "swim and be social" event at an indoor pool. The BBQ grill is now available, but be careful leaning over that thing. The Longhouse, 23301 Redmond-Fall City Rd, firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-9746, noon-6 pm, $10, Wet Spot members and their guests only, RSVP required.
THIRD ANNUAL CANINE FESTIVAL
Get your dog on at Seattle's third annual Canine Festival, featuring nearly two acres of dog and obedience shows, meet-the-breed booths, and educational seminars, plus a canine behaviorist to answer all your burning questions. Magnuson Park, Hangar 27, 7400 Sandpoint Way NE, 9 am-5 pm, free.